Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Club: with Dan Ahwa

The first Book Club post featured Rachel and Anjali the designers behind Twenty-Seven Names and their obsession with the whole Harry Potter spectrum. Next up is Dan Ahwa - fashion editor at Canvas, freelance stylist and one of my favourite people (also the owner of an impeccable jacket and sandal collection, and one of the best senses of humour in the local fashion industry). Dan has just returned from Europe where he was privilaged enough to interview Carine Roitfeld about her new makeup range with MAC Cosmetics and her recently released timely new publication, the CR Fashion Book (not to mention she sings the praises of rising local model Anmari Botha).

Dan's book choices are an intriguing edit of iconic, formative novels and have clearly had an important influence on his taste, style and work.

What was the last book you read? 
On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
What are your favorite books? 
Books that tend to be about a protagonist/antihero going through some sort of development as a person, whether it's for the best or whether it's a downward spiral.
Do you have a preferred genre? 
I prefer first person stories, anything autobiographical, historical both fiction and non-fiction.
Sartorially speaking, do you have a favorite book or character? 
I really liked the way casual, working class American style is described in The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. Baseball tees, denim, grey marle and leather jackets are wardrobe staples that are both timeless and universal. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis I found interesting. As a character he's a real asshole with an terrible state of mind, but his style is precise and an interesting documentation of how preppy codes of dress had become almost like caricature during the excess of the 80s. I'm also a fan of the way Agatha Christie dressed Hercule Poirot in her Poirot series. His strict style was a way of adding a sense of trust to an otherwise oddball character.

Are there any books that have informed your personal style? 
Every Summer I often end up looking like a backpacker on their O.E, like Richard in The Beach by Alex Garland, compete with Birkenstock sandals and holiday t-shirts. This is not intentional.
Likewise with your work? 
Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye by J. D Salinger and his red hunting hat went against the norm and was personal, so whenever I'm styling I like to make it look like the clothes belong to the models by adding something personal. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates is always a good source of inspiration, and like most books, the characters way of life and simple way of dress come across are a lot more developed than the film adaptation.

When do you do your reading? 
Usually before bed, first thing in the morning or when I'm on holiday.
What protagonist do you identify with the most?  
Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky.
As a child did you have a character you identified with? 
All the protagonists in R.L Stine's Goosebumps series.
What were the most formative books from your youth? 
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. I also used to really obsess over collecting the books where you could choose your own endings.
What was your favorite book from your childhood? 
Where's Spot? by Eric Hill. I hope to read this to my kids one day.
Is there a book that you find yourself re-reading? 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky. I'd like to finish reading The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, as I think it will be one I'll come back to.
Do you have any favourite illustrated books? 
The Twits by Roald Dahl. Quentin Blake's depiction of Mr. and Mrs. Twit is perverse, which I makes me like it even more.

Illustration by Quentin Blake for The Twits

Are there any books that you just could not finish (or even start) for whatever reason? 
We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver was hard to start. After two months, I picked it up again and read it to the end and I couldn't put it down.
Whats your favorite book-to-film combo? 
A tie between The Shawshank Redemption (1994) directed by Frank Darabont and adapted from Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption; and Stand By Me (1986) directed by Rob Reiner and also based on a Stephen King novella called The Body. I also really like the 1998 film adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
Do you or would you Kindle/eBook?
I prefer holding and reading from a book. I think we spend enough time looking at screens these days, although I would never say never.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Great Expectations (1998)

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